Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
Series: Loveboat, Taipei
Published January 7th 2020 by Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
Genre: contemporary, romance, young adult, ownvoices
When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life.
Unbeknownst to her parents, however, the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat, where the kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines.
Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart?
taiwan was my first overseas trip, that i actually took a plane, so i have very fond memories created in that country. loveboat, taipei made me want to fly to taiwan and enjoy all the delicacies and culture once again. the book addressed many issues such as mental illness, disabilities, racism, insecurities and self-discovery. i do wish there were further discussions about relatively more important topics. some parts were predictable but it didn’t diminish my enjoyment.
ever wong has several major problems in her life right now. since she was young, ever’s parents have told her time and time again that she’ll work towards being a doctor. it has been her parents’ dream but ever just wants to be a dancer. on top of that, ever have been struggling with her asian identity. she doesn’t like parts of herself that reminds her of her race. being sent to taiwan for a program to brush up her mandarin wasn’t what she wanted to do but it was what her parents wanted.
i found ever to be a good main character. ever’s bravery is admirable, especially in that one moment when she had to speak up in an uncomfortable situation. despite her having moments like that, she’s only capable of speaking up for herself in front of people in that program while she couldn’t do that with her parents about her wanting to be a dancer. but i do understand that it’s immensely harder to speak up for herself to her parents who had sacrificed so much for her.
“Maybe part of fighting the unhappiness in this world is to seize happiness when we can.”
i wasn’t invested in the relationship aspect but i liked the individual characters involved in the “love triangle” which can be a hit or miss for me. most of the time it’s a miss. i kind of knew who she might end up with so i wasn’t that bothered. all the side characters were interesting people too. they added a fun and chaotic vibe.
overall, loved exploring taiwan through a book and witnessing the chinese cultural representation in it. loveboat, taipei was filled with drama and character growth. i couldn’t really connect with any of the characters, but i could understand and sympathise ever’s need to pursue her own passion and the pressure she felt from her parents.